Calvary Road Baptist Church

“DO YOU WANT YOUR CHILDREN TO BE WITH YOU IN HEAVEN?”

Genesis 18.16-19; Deuteronomy 6.4-24; Proverbs 22.6; First John 2.15-17

 

Some time back I watched a YouTube video of Dr. James Dobson’s interview of mass murderer Ted Bundy that took place shortly before his execution.[1] That interview began a thought process that ended up with this morning’s message. Not that I am in this message attempting to prevent mass murderers. That is not my goal. I have a completely different agenda than attempting in this sermon to offset the effect of demon possession.

Do you want your children to be with you in heaven? By that question, of course, I refer to something far more than simply a desire to obtain what you want apart from a heavy investment of time and effort to bring about what you want. Most parents want their children to be with them in heaven without a corresponding willingness to courageously work toward that end. My question has to do with whether or not you are willing to make the personal sacrifices necessary to see that good end in your child’s life. The reality that provokes my question is that if your child does not go to heaven when he or she passes from this life to the next life, that child, your child will spend all eternity separated from you, forever estranged from you, never ever to be seen or loved or cherished by you or anyone else again. Beloved, I do not want that to happen to you. I do not want that to happen to your child.

I propose that we consider four of the many passages in God’s Word that bear upon the eternal destiny of your children before providing for you what I consider to be a very reasonable checklist to help you discharge your responsibility as a father or as a mother whose goal is to raise your child to walk worthy of God in this life and to be with you in heaven in the next life. The items on this checklist overlap because they are interrelated. If you blow it in one area you are almost certainly blowing it in the other areas:

We begin with Genesis 18.16-19:

 

16    And the men rose up from thence, and looked toward Sodom: and Abraham went with them to bring them on the way.

17    And the LORD said, Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do;

18    Seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him?

19    For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the LORD, to do justice and judgment; that the LORD may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him.

 

Quite apart from the context of the Angel of the LORD and His heavenly companions visiting with Abraham, as a prelude to the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah is this very interesting 19th verse, which shows the commendable leadership the friend of God provided for his home and children. In this respect, Abraham is an example for all husbands and fathers to follow. Notice the important part theme parks and activities play in parenting with Abraham. Not to say that those things are bad, so long as they take a distant second place to real life training conducted by a father and a mother.

Next, there is Deuteronomy 6.4-24, of which I will only read the first four verses:

 

4      Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD:

5      And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.

6      And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart:

7      And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.

 

The pertinent portion of this passage as it relates to fathers and mothers, of course, is verse 7, where diligence in teaching and training children is prescribed. Fun time activities certainly have their place, but such a place is not an important place in child rearing if it does not include diligent teaching and training.

We next turn to Proverbs 22.6:

 

“Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”

 

Whether this verse is a promise of the benefit of godly parenting, as Charles Bridges takes it,[2] or a warning against indulgent parenting, as Jay E. Adams views it,[3] there is no denying that parenting affects a child’s outcome in both adulthood and eternity. What is important for parents to remember is the absolute importance of training as an essential in raising children. Of course, training children is very difficult.

Finally, for us today is First John 2.15-17:

 

15    Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.

16    For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.

17    And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.

 

This passage shows that the world in which you live is no ally of any father or mother who seeks to raise a child to walk worthy of God, but is a cesspool of temptations and distractions for both parents and their youngsters that exists in opposition to the plan and purpose of God and godly parents.

I will now attempt to offer very practical advice to young couples with children, to those of you contemplating children, as well as you who envision a future in which marriage and a family is hoped and prayed for. I will set before you only that which makes sense from a practical perspective and is reasonable. I can imagine no one here today who would take issue with the wisdom of my suggestions.

Five steps to successfully laying the groundwork for the challenging task of Christian child rearing with the goal, not of getting the kid raised and out of the house, but seeing your child in heaven with you:

 

First, MAKE SURE OF YOUR OWN ETERNAL DESTINY

 

How successful can you possibly be persuading your youngster to want to end up where you may not end up and where your youngster is not totally convinced you will end up? Will your child buy into the notion that heaven is his best eternal destiny if that child is not fully persuaded that you by your attitudes and actions are not so convinced? As well, I urge you to avoid the mistake of assuming all is well with your soul if you have not intentionally and pointedly addressed this matter of salvation. So many people assume that because they attend church with some regularity and enjoy themselves while there that they are therefore prepared for heaven when they die. Really? Are you sure? Shouldn’t you be sure?

Consider Second Corinthians 13.8:

 

“Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves.”

 

Are you aware that this directive is not an assignment to yourself of the responsibility of self-examination to see if you are in the faith, to prove yourself to yourself? Not at all. This is a directive to the congregation to examine those of us who are in the congregation whereby we look to the spiritual welfare and preparedness of each other.

This fits perfectly with First Peter 3.15:

 

“But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear.”

 

Are you ready to explain to a concerned and experienced Christian why you think you are a Christian? Why you think you are prepared for heaven? Why you think your sins are forgiven?

This really is a matter that needs to be well settled before you turn your attention to the salvation of your children, don’t you think?

 

Next, DO YOUR DUE DILIGENCE TO MARRY A BELIEVER

 

There are three practical reasons why you need to take special precautions to make sure when you marry that you marry a Christian:

First, because marriage by a Christian to a non-Christian is forbidden. In Second Corinthians 6.14 the Apostle Paul sets forth the principle that has much wider application than marriage alone:

 

“Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?”

 

Be this a yoking in marriage, a yoking in a business partnership, or any other intimate arrangement of parties, the questions remain: What fellowship can there be between one who is righteous and one who is unrighteous? What communion exists between light and darkness? We have horror stories by the bushel basket in our church of saved husbands and unsaved wives, unsaved husbands and saved wives and the tragedies associated with trying to raise children in those kinds of environments. It tortures a child to have to choose between a Christian and a non-Christian parent, and such agony for a child is best avoided by a real Christian marrying a convincingly real Christian.

Next, marry a Christian because marriage by a Christian to a non-Christian is confusing. I have already mentioned the torture and agony a child faces with one parent a Christian and another parent, not a Christian. But in addition to the torture of such a predicament, there is also the confusion of that kind of situation. Who is right, mom or dad? And how does a child ascertain which parent to side with? Kids normally think in terms of good and bad. But what if the child not only loves but genuinely likes not only the saved parent but also the unsaved parent? Oh, how that kid is torn. Not only is this a difficult situation that comes about when two people get married, and one of them later comes to Christ but is an even worse tragedy when a Christian knowingly creates such a mess by marrying someone who is not genuinely converted. To be sure, it is better for any child to have one Christian parent than to have no Christian parents since there will be some gospel testimony in the home. However, it is far better for mom and dad to be in harmonious agreement concerning the gospel and the things of God, and so much less confusing and torturous for the child.

Third, marry a believer because marriage by a Christian to a non-Christian creates a house that is divided. When the Lord Jesus Christ was accused of casting out demons by the power of Beelzebub, the chief of the devils, He countered by showing the fallacy of such an accusation. In Luke 11.17 we read His words, illustrating a principle in two ways:

 

“Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and a house divided against a house falleth.”

 

Thus, whether it is a kingdom or a household, a nation or a family, desolation for the kingdom or the crumbling of the household is far more likely in the case of divided spiritual loyalties. You bring trouble on yourself in marriage, and you bring trouble in the form of emotional torture and confusion into the lives of your children if you marry an unsaved person.

 

Third, ENLIST THE COMMITMENT AND SUPPORT OF BOTH SETS OF GRANDPARENTS

 

Let us presume that two Christians decide to marry, and they look to the future and the possibility of children in their marriage. This is not the time to discuss the folly of marrying someone without the approval of his or her parents. We could tell stories related to such mistakes as those for hours. Let us rather address the situation in which your marriage meets with the approval of both sets of parents of the bride and groom. After all, when you marry you most certainly do marry the family. Deal with it. If you can’t deal with that, then don’t marry that person. It’s really that simple. Once more, who needs to make life any more difficult for children than it will already be? Get along with your presumptive spouse’s parents, and your future children’s aunts and uncles, or find a family you can get along with, for the kid’s sakes.

Ever consider sitting down with one set of prospective in-laws and then the other set of prospective in-laws and discussing your future and the part you want them to play in the future of your family? I would suggest doing that. I wish to God someone had suggested that to Pam and me. Discuss with them such things as church, beliefs, discipline, personal standards, what kind of language the future grand kids should be exposed to, whether it is appropriate for them to be around boozing family members, and so forth. You have no interest in telling your kid’s future grandparents how to live their lives. However, you want to make sure there is an understanding that they will not undermine your efforts with their grandchildren. They don’t have to go to your church. But surely all can agree that it is inappropriate for them to speak openly against your church or the gospel. I have three examples in my own experience of just such a thing: First, Sarah’s grandmother tried to interfere with me correcting my daughter, and she interfered in front of her. It happened once. Second, Sarah’s grandfather openly ridiculed her for doing something spiritual when she was very young. It occurred once. And, third, Sarah’s grandmother got very upset that I reserved for myself the right to determine what videos were appropriate to show my daughter. Please, learn from my experiences. I recommend that you discuss matters sooner rather than later. Come to a general understanding with your prospective in-laws that while you do not insist that they embrace your values or practices, you think it reasonable that they do not undermine or subvert your efforts in any way. Then, of course, if they violate those reasonable requests you talk to them about it. No screaming and yelling. Just a calm reminder on your part that as boundaries were observed by others when they raised their kids, they agree to do likewise with your kids.

Grandparents can and should be an important part of a child’s life. My grandparents certainly were. Aunts and uncles, too. However, they need to understand that they have no right whatsoever to undermine or subvert your efforts to raise your children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.

To this day, I remember someone dealing with one of our teens at camp, when all of a sudden he insightfully inquired about the teen’s grandmother. It turns out that the grandmother holds decidedly different opinions about sin, salvation, church, and such things than did this teen’s mother. And the grandmother was not at all shy about voicing her disagreements. The result? To this day both that teen and his sibling remain lost, humanly speaking in great measure to the grandmother’s vocal opposition.

Can you imagine your mother-in-law or father-in-law calling you up and yelling at you to make their son-in-law or daughter-in-law do this or that? I have had such experiences. Several times. And long after those people forget their anger toward their daughter-in-law or son-in-law they will remember that they hate the pastor, for reasons they have forgotten. Those folks were effectively lost to my ministry once they got away with doing that to their adult child’s spouse without serious repercussion from their grown married child.

May I recommend that you prevent such a thing as that from ever happening? Talk to your future in-laws before, so they won’t call me after. Better for you to wrangle with the grandparents than for your parents or your in-laws to confuse or distract your children from the gospel. I end up being the bad guy, and I haven’t done anything.

 

Fourth, ORDER YOUR HOME LIFE TO REFLECT ETERNAL VALUES

 

We know that a house divided against itself cannot stand. The Lord Jesus Christ told us that. So, what are some of the obvious and important ways in which your home life can reflect eternal values?

First, with respect to spousal cooperation. No two people in a marriage are ever in complete agreement about everything, and that’s okay. Different neatness tolerances, different playtime noise level tolerances, and even different criteria for discipline. What is more important than fussing about differences is agreeing to cooperate with each other to accomplish spiritual goals. Two suggestions: First, allow two standards by which the household is run. Mom’s rules when dad is gone and dad’s rules when dad is home. Confusing? Not at all. Every kid has to learn how to adapt to different teachers, different coaches, different baby sitters, and so forth. Adapting to mom and then dad is a slam dunk so long as dad is not so foolish as to either demand or expect that his rules will be in force when he isn’t around. Second, both parents cooperate in not subverting each other to their children. This applies both to refusing to criticize each other’s house rules when in force, but also refusing to let your child play the two of you against each other when asking permission or when being disciplined. The late Jack Hyles remarked that on those rare occasions that he arrived on the scene when his wife was about to administer correction to one of the kids, he made sure he left the room so as to play no role in interfering with his wife’s efforts. Disagreements between parents about such things should be handled outside the hearing of the children.

Next, with respect to church faithfulness. I would suggest that you both discuss your intentions with respect to faithfulness in both attending and in serving in the church. Once the kids come along, there will be all kinds of pressures to deviate from your predetermined path, but it is, even more, important for you to establish a pattern for the benefit of the children. And do not think that mere attendance means much of anything. After all, there are always people who show up, occupy space in the building, but are not really here. Oh, they occasionally greet people and sometimes shake hands. However, they make sure that wherever there are people praying, they are somewhere else, wherever there are people actively doing something they are somewhere else. The only way they could possibly be less involved and engaged would be to be physically in another location. Is that kind of attendance acceptable for either you or your future offspring? I hope not. The Bible teaches there are spiritual benefits that accrue to people who are both present and interacting with others. Therefore, I would suggest that you discuss before you ever get married whether or not either one of you, or children you will have later, will be the sit and do absolutely nothing types that frequent some congregations. Please don’t make the pastor the bad guy in addressing a problem of spiritual neglect or indolence that ought to be handled by mom or dad.

Third, personal and family devotional life. There are many issues in a child’s life than can be seen at church but which ought to be addressed at home. Church is not the place where children should be raised but reinforced. Church is a companion institution with the home for evangelizing children and then training them for service and ministry in the church. Sadly, many churches engage in full-blown youth ministries that have the unintentional effect of redistributing parenting responsibilities from moms and dads to youth directors, so that both congregations and families are deceived into thinking that involvement in youth groups takes the place of diligent training at home. It does not. It should not. That is why personal and family devotions and training are so important. Church is not the be all and end all for kids. Neither is the family. Dads and moms are to do what dads and moms are supposed to do, and pastors and congregations are to do what churches are supposed to do. Thus, attending every service does not take the place of dads and moms opening the Word of God at home with their youngsters.

 

Finally, GLORIFY GOD AND EXALT CHRIST IN YOUR GOSPEL PREACHING CHURCH

 

There are two ways in which you can impress upon your children the importance of spiritual things, the danger of committing sins, and the crucial need to not only prepare for eternity but also to lay up their treasures in heaven once they are heaven-bound: You can tell your children about the things of God, the beauty of serving the Savior, and the importance of ministry, or you can show them. I promise you that your showing them these things by the way you live, the way you love, and impact of your life lived on theirs will have more impact than by merely saying things.

To be sure, it is important to declare that you love Jesus Christ and seek to glorify God. However, great weight is lent to your words when your children see that to you serving God and seeking the salvation of the lost is more important than leisure, more important than hobbies, and more important than anything else. It is one thing to say, “I’d rather have Jesus than silver or gold.” It is more important that your claim is backed up where your children can see it by your actions.

That is the reason the Apostle Paul refers to the godly actions of a father who behaves himself “holily and justly and unblameably” in the presence of his children, and a mother who is “gentle” with her own children, imparting to them “the gospel of God.”[4]

It is when the combined efforts of a spiritually committed father and a godly mother are reinforced by the gospel-centered ministry of a God-glorifying and Christ-exalting church they worship and faithfully serve in that the best results can not only be sought and prayed for in faith believing, but expected.

It is when there is an unsaved father, or an unsaved mother, or inconsistency at home or in church that the troubles begin to brew, and seeds of doubt and skepticism are sown in the life of the child rather the seed of the Word.

 

I know that some people might be horrified at the thought of sitting down with prospective in-laws to enlist their support with the upcoming marriage and the raising of future children. However, if it is done properly and with a humble spirit, each spouse’s parents can come to feel complimented at the thought of being incorporated into your plans. And so long as you provide spiritual leadership for your in-laws to follow the major problems will be addressed before they become too troublesome, and if you find that you are dealing with a troublesome grandparent or meddling in-law, you can take appropriate steps. I well remember a situation in which a grandfather wanted to give an entirely inappropriate gift to his grandson, that the father is very understandably opposed as a potential danger to his son. The result was a serious conflict in which the grandfather asserted his right to do with his grandson what he chose to do regardless of the father’s will in the matter. Thankfully, the matter was eventually resolved.

Do you want such conflicts in your marriage or your household? Or would you rather enlist your extended family in a reasonable dialog and collaborative effort to see your children raised in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. “Hey, dad. I know you and I disagree with some of the things we will teach our son, but you gotta understand that we will never teach him to dishonor you or disrespect you in any way. I just want your commitment to honor me as I seek to honor you. Do we have a deal?” That kind of reasoned approach taken by a young couple approaching marriage and the prospect of children goes a long way to not only reduce conflict in your marriage and your home but also reduces the spiritual opposition you will have to deal with as you wrestle for the souls of your children in prayer and parenting.

The goal is to see your kids in heaven with you. The wisdom is in taking reasonable steps along the way to reinforce the gospel message you expose your children to, to reduce the opposition you may encounter along the way from unsaved loved ones, and to establish yourselves as the spiritual leaders for your family unit so as to lead your children to Christ and to Christian service on their way to heaven.

__________

[1] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DP-xaOjCIm0

[2] Charles Bridges, A Commentary On Proverbs, (Carlisle, PA: The Banner Of Truth Trust, reprinted from the 1846 edition in 1968), pages 401-406

[3] See footnote Jay E. Adams, Competent To Counsel: Introduction To Nouthetic Counseling, (Grand Rapids, MI: Ministry Resources Library, 1970), page 158.

[4] 1 Thessalonians 2.7-12

Would you like to contact Dr. Waldrip about this sermon? Please contact him by clicking on the link below. Please do not change the subject within your email message. Thank you.

pastor@calvaryroadbaptist.org